Caribbean RoundUp

Bahamas

A joint operation by law enforcement officers near Great Inagua in The Bahamas resulted in the seizure of more than $2.5 million in cocaine, police said.

Police said 345 pounds of cocaine on North West Cay, an island north of Great Inagua was recently seized.

Two men, a 44 year-old Dominican Republic national and a 41 year-old Turks and Caicos resident were held by the Drug Enforcement Unit and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in connection with the huge drug find.

The two suspects recently appeared in court and were remanded in custody until later this month.

The seizure comes just over a week after law enforcement officers in Grand Bahama seized $1.2 million in cocaine from the Freeport Container Port.

The illicit drugs were discovered in a container that arrived from Peru and was being transport to Toronto, Canada, according to police.

Barbados

There are between 1,700 and 2,000 new cases filed in the Barbados’ court system annually, according to the island’s Chief Justice Marston Gibson.

Gibson said the way the legal system was currently structured had caused a massive backlog for the courts as he revealed that they were currently struggling with over 3,000 cases still waiting to go on trial.

Delivering the feature address at the Barbados Workers’ Union 71st annual delegate conference at Solidarity House recently, the Chief Justice said there were 362 cases on the books that were still undecided, some dating as far back as l893.

He reiterated his call for the implementation of Alternative Dispute Resolution as a possible way to bring the judicial system out of that problem.

Haiti

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon warned that Haiti was struggling to cope with a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and deteriorating conditions in tent camps as aid groups withdraw from the impoverished country due to lack of funding.

In a report to the UN Security Council, Ban said there had been an increase in the number of cholera cases since the rainy season began in early March and the World Health Organization (WHO) had projected there could be up to 112,000 cases during 2012.

The cholera outbreak has sickened more than 600,000 people and killed around 7,400 in the Caribbean nation since October 2010. Some Haitians accused Nepalese UN troops of sparking the epidemic after their camp latrines contaminated a river.

“The resurgence of the cholera outbreak is particularly worrying since non-governmental organizations, which respond at the beginning of the epidemic are phasing out due to lack of funding,” Ban said.

Cholera is an infection that causes severe diarrhea and can lead to dehydration and death. It occurs in places with poor sanitization and can be treated by drinking clean fluids.

Haiti is still struggling to lift itself from the rubble left by earthquake in January 2010 that killed about 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless.

Haiti

Former Haitian Prime Minister Smarck Michel, a businessman who served for almost a year as prime minister in the mid 1990s died recently at the age of 75.

Michel was appointed prime minister in l994, one month after Jean Bertrand-Aristide resumed the presidency after three years in exile. Michel resigned about a year later over opposition to his economic reforms, which advocated a privatization plan that was unpopular with Haiti’s poor majority.

After his brief stint in politics, Michel returned full-time to the family grocery store until he closed it in 2010.

Haiti’s President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have sent sympathies to the family and friends of the former head of government.

Jamaica

The shooting of two women, one fatally during an altercation with a policeman recently has sparked a massive protest in Yallahs, St. Thomas.

Reports are that the women were shot after they were involved in a fight with a policeman who attempted to arrest one of them.

The woman, Kayann Lamont, 25, who died was reportedly pregnant, while the other remains in hospital.

Senior police officers say they are now collecting statements from witnesses about the incident.

A corporal of police, Dwayne Smart has since been changed with Lamont’s killing.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Lisa Palmer- Hamilton ruled that Smart be also charged with illegal possession of a firearm, wounding with intent and assault.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia recorded yet another deadly week-end recently with three people being killed. The latest was the shooting near the Ciceron bus stop that claimed the life of Miguel Augustin. The other two killings on the week-end were also as a result of gun violence. A Special Police Constable Lucan Lesmond was killed after he was shot in the head.

Police are questioning an unidentified female suspect.

Evencious Francis Dennery was also killed by a gunman.

Police are investigating whether the latest shooting is connected to the murder of Lester Francis who was shot and killed while at a bar in the Bois d’Orange two days before. Another man who was shot in the same incident is currently hospitalized.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s first female government minister, Heraldine Rock, has died at the age of 86.

Affectionately called “Ma Rock’, the prominent farmer served as a government minister from the period 1974-1980 and was a member of the Castries Town Board l964-74.

Rock was also the first female vice-president of the United Workers Party (UWP) that was formed by the late Sir John Compton.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) described her as a “pioneering woman” under a project “Catalysts for Change: Caribbean Women and Governance”.

The cause of her death was not disclosed.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar summoned a special sitting of Parliament (which is on recess) to repeal Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011, which could have seen two of her party’s (United National Congress) financiers who are facing fraud and bid-rigging charges arising out of the 1997 US$1.6 billion Piarco International Airport Development project, walk free.

Under Section 34 of the Act, accused persons who have cases pending for more than 10 years in the courts can apply to the High Court to have their cases dismissed.

Government had given the undertaken that the Act will be proclaimed after all the requirements were put in place.

Five clauses of the bill were proclaimed on Aug. 30 by President Max Richards.

The Administration of Justice indictable proceedings Act 2011, which sought to abolish preliminary inquiries to ensure that accused persons can stand trial before a judge and jury in more expeditious timeframe is one of the hallmark pieces of legislation that has been passed by the Persad-Bissessar administration.

Two weeks after the Act was proclaimed, the two UNC financiers, Ish Galbaransigh and Steve Ferguson petitioned the High Court to have their cases dismissed under the Act, because the matters have been ongoing for more than 10 years. The issue prompted widespread condemnation from the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) and various sectors of the public.

The opposition claimed that the proclamation came as a thief in the night while the country was celebrating its 50th independence anniversary last month.

Following a marathon sitting of both Houses of Parliament last Wednesday, the Act was repealed retroactively.

Trinidad

Fired Trinidad & Tobago Minister in the Ministry of National Security Colin Partap has denied that he was drunk when police asked him to take a breathalyzer test after leaving a Port of Spain night club in the early hours of the morning recently.

In a statement, his first since the incident on Aug. 26, Partap, an attorney said, “At no point in time I was drunk or under arrest,”

Partap was fired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar hours after she received a report from National Security Minister Jack Warner on the incident.

“I just want to give my side of the story, I am not a drunk and I did not refuse to take a breathalyzer test,” he said, while addressing a media conference at his constituency office in Sangre Grande.

He admitted to being stopped by a group of police officers outside the Zen nightclub.

“I was not arrested or detained. The officer asked me to go to the Belmont station and I complied. He said the police did not have the breathalyzer to administer it to him when he was stopped outside the club.

Partap said he took the test at the police station after acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams arrived and advise him that he should take the test.

He said his breathalyzer reading was well below the legal alcohol level.

The top cop said following investigations it will be decided whether the former minister will be charged for refusing to take the test.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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